Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. ~ Pablo Picasso
This also applies to me and my photography.
I love to look back at my photos and think about where I took them and who was with me at the time. Each photo is an instant flash back to (mostly) wonderful memories. This past week on G+ I have been sharing the few Lego photos I took while in Iceland last year. Looking at them today takes me immediately back there and I experience the exhilaration over again.
For me photography has always been a form of documentation; be it my emotions, my family or an unusually viewpoint of a particular place. It may not seem like one, but my photography is a visual journal of my day to day life.
I have always travelled with my Lego mini figures and my photographs represent the places I have been. Since this is on a micro scale a specific place may be difficult to identify. As the colors and textures of places differ, it is interesting to see those differences in the final shots. This can be especially obvious when viewed as a group.
I am curious how you view your photography.
What role does it play in your life?
Is it a book in the making?
Is it a documentation of your everyday life?
Is it reaction to world events around you?
I wonder if +Me2 takes his Lego with him when he travels for business?
|Iceland October 2013
|Arches NP, Utah, September 2014
What a difference a year can make.
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
Alexander Graham Bell
Approximately one year ago I was headed to Iceland with the fine folks at KEXP radio to cover the Iceland Airwaves music festival. I was excited, I had packed my lego and I knew it was going to be a good trip. In fact, it was an incredible trip, all my expectations where met!
This year I am not going to Airwaves and I am sad. I had three good years as a volunteer but my services were not needed this time. It is hard to watch my friends prepare for another amazing year and no I won’t be there to experience it. But when I am honest with myself, I know it would have been hard to pull off another Airwaves this year. Right now, nine days out of my life would be crippling.
So even though I am sad about not joining in the fun, I have faith that I am on the right track…for me. Music is still a big part of my life (it always will be) and I still find time to volunteer, it’s just that now there are other areas in my life that are a bigger priority.
In the mean time I will have to stop looking backwards as that door closes so I can see the door that has opened up before me. I have to have faith in the future.
“Magic realism or magical realism is a genre where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic (often mundane) environment. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.” ~ Wikipedia
Magical realism is my favorite genre of literature. Think One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami or Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. All books I have read and loved.
I recently started reading the latest Murakami novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and it felt like putting on a my favorite coat. It was a happy comfortable feeling; almost like coming home and naturally it got me thinking.
I understand why in “Steal Like an Artist” the author talks about the importance of side projects. Not only can they give creative inspiration to your work, but they can help you understand what you are doing and why. Connect the dots, so to speak. I am attracted to magical realism across multiple disciplines and it makes sense that I would want to recreate that feeling in my own work. I find it comforting that my artistic insanity is consistent.
In my opinion the Lego mini figure is well suited to this goal of magical realism. For many of us it has an instant connection to childhood memories as well as a place in our present lives. To have a toy that is so imbued with instant emotions, then free it from those boundaries and place it in unexpected location is a powerful tool. I want to help my viewer (and myself) to reclaim that sense of wonder and innocence that we associate with childhood. By placing the mini figure in unusual situations, I hope it will gain an aspect of magical realism that only comes from having a foot in two different worlds at the same time, the past and the present.
It is important to me that my Lego friends inhabit my world, not a world down a rabbit hole or a world created by someone else. I want them to be of my world, just a better, more magical version of my world.
What is your favorite book in this genre?
I’ve been watching documentaries again, this time it was Cave of Forgotten Dreams. This interesting documentary by Werner Herzog is about the relatively recently discovered Chauvet Cave in southern France that contains some of the oldest human-painted images ever discovered. These rock paintings were created approximately 32,000 years ago. It was a good documentary and considering the subject matter it was actually riveting; I recommend it.
Why do I bring this up now? How is this relevant to our discussions on “Why”? In all our conversations we have never mentioned legacy or more specifically immortality. One day we will all become dust or random particles. Depending on your beliefs you may return as another life form, you will pass on to another plane of existence or simply stop existing. What ever your beliefs, our time on earth is short and mostly inconsequential.
For me the desire to create has many different facets. I am driven by my inner voice to create much the same way my ancestors were driven to create their rock paintings. I want to use my art to connect with other people. This can be as simple as a brief interaction on IG or an in person meeting that has turned into a friendship. I am also arrogant enough to want to leave my mark on this earth; sort of like my initials carved into a tree or a painting in a cave.
As my husband is fond of pointing out, I have met all my current friends through the internet. (Ok, maybe not quite all, I think there are one or two that I actually met in person through some long lost job or my kids school.) But by and large, the majority are people I have collected in my social media journey. They are a large and diverse group and they are all precious to me. This is what drives me.
So I will keep creating, I will keep reaching out to meet new people and I will keep trying to make my mark on this complicated world we live in.
If you ever want to know my answer to the question “Why?” it is all over this blog, it is in everything I write and in every image I create. I want to connect with as many people as possible before I sink back into the dust.
If you are curious about the concept of Immortality I highly recommend a book of the same name by Milan Kundera. An excellent read for the artist and non-artist alike.
If dinosaurs died out 65Million years ago and the oldest human fossil is 4Million years old and those cave paintings mentioned above are from 32,000 years ago, no wonder I feel like a short timer.
Challenging yourself is a continuing theme on this blog. Ok, maybe it is just my thing. (Although I do seem to remember +Me2 set himself a challenge earlier this year to post daily to the blog.)
Earlier this summer I challenged myself with a rather large project and set Christmas as the deadline. Time (and good weather) is running out and I need to buckle down and get the rest of my photos shot if I am going to make this lofty goal.
Yesterday was one of those wonderful days where I finally nailed a pivotal photo I have been chasing all summer. My earlier frustrations have been a combination of poor planning and lousy locations. But yesterday the weather was good, the kids were gone and I had no good excuses left to avoid this shot.
I have learned that pre planning is everything. I have had enough experience with all that has gone wrong that I felt I was ready for success. By building the set before hand all I had to do was drop it into the location and shoot away. This way, all I had to concentrate on was lighting and camera angles, not the subjects floating away.
I thought I would give you a behind the scenes glimpse into what that photographic journey has looked like. Now I have to get going on the rest of the photos…
Do you ever have an image in your head that you’ve struggled to capture?
|Lower Snoqualmie Falls, June 2014
|Lake Washington, August 2014
|Puget Sound, September 2014
|Magnuson Park, October 2014
“Why?”seems to be the question of the day. We have been asking it here on the blog and have been blessed by a handful of guest posts that answer that question from various view points. I was recently reading Beautiful Lego by Mike Doyle and it is filled with artist essays that directly tackle the question of “Why?” from a Lego builders point of view.
In all the answers I have been reading there are plenty of similarities: emotional connection with the audience, expression of an idea, new ways to interact with a beloved childhood toy and the element of surprise at seeing a familiar toy in a new way. But is “Why?” even the right question to be asking?
Sure it is, if you are marketing to a particular audience; it would be important to know what drives your audience so you can sell more product. But if you are an artist, the bigger and far more important question seems to me to be: “How do you stay motivated?”
How does the creative individual stay motivated to get up everyday and strive to make something new. How does an artist keep creating day after day in relative anonyminity. No matter what your creative tools may be (a camera, lego bricks or your words), how do you keep going day after day pursuing an activity that will bring you only intangible rewards?
Of all the responses we have had so far to the question “Why?” I think that Legojacker was the closest to addressing the more important question: How do you stay motivated?
So what DOES it take to stay motivated?
I am heading home after a five day adventure in the Moab region of Utah.
Four of those days involved photographing lego with decidedly mixed results.
I realized I was outside my comfort zone shooting in harsh light, with rocks and sparse vegetation as my only textures. Photographing in the lush Pacific Northwest with its mossy rocks and dappled sunlight seems like a walk in the park by comparison.
I love this area for its grand views, it’s sure subtlety of color and apocalyptic nature.
But how in the world do I translate that to the macro world?
Let’s just say I struggled with decidedly mixed results.
But isn’t that the nature of growth, to challenge
To learn from our mistakes?
To play outside our comfort zone?
I’m very excited by tomorrow’s guest post.
He’s an artist that continually challenges himself with different techniques and also challenges the viewer with his message.
It seems Me2 isn’t the only one fond of posing questions:
“Writer Henry James once proposed three questions you could productively put to an artists work. The first two were disarmingly straightforward: What was the artist trying to achieve? Did he/she succeed? The third`s a zinger: Was it worth doing?” ~ excerpt from Art & Fear
And that is the crux of the problem right there. I think I ask myself this question in some way everyday. Art isn’t about making pretty pictures, it’s not about perfect technique…art needs to go behind that.
Certainly by embracing a small plastic toy peddled by one of the largest toy companies in the world makes me suspect my own abilities to move beyond these impediments. How do you challenge the status quo or capture a moment in time when you are essentially free advertising for Big inc.
Me2 posed a question awhile back that hit me hard and I’ve been unable to answer: would I exhibit my work in Shell Oil`s boardroom? Honestly I don’t know? I’d like to think I have high moral standards, but I’m a realist. Would it move my work to the next level? Could the work be a form of protest? Could I generate controversy and get the work to a larger audience? Or am I just fooling myself and selling myself to the highest bidder?
Right now I know I’m not challenging myself enough in terms of content. I’ve achieved my original technical goals and can confidently capture whatever scene I set up. But it’s time for me to take the next step and challenge both myself and the viewer.
When I look at a finished image I want to be able to answer “Yes” when I ask that third question: “Was it worth doing?”
One of the best parts about paticipating in this blog for me is the back and forth between Me2 and mysef. I realize it’s not always an easy conversation to follow and we often go off on tangents, but I enjoy the process. It’s been a couple of days since his Pluto post that posed more questions than answers, but I wanted to put in my two cents.
It is hard to put yourself forward as an artist. It can be an emotional and ego busting experience. You are displaying something that is often intensly personal and you don’t know how it will be perceived. Will it be appreciated, criticized or ignored?
But that is not the only risk in our newly minted uber connected world. Information flows quickly on the internet, copyright has very little meaning and appropriation is the order of the day. As an artist it can be disheartening to see your work end up in the wrong place with no attribution. Another all too real risk is the overly enthusiastic fan or even worse the outright thief.
What do you do if you are the Jedi with a Padawan walking too closely in your footsteps? I was reading through “Steal Like an Artist” (again) and came across a great quote that in my mind deals with this beautifully:
“Complain about the way other people make software by making software.” ~ Andre Torrez
In short…get busy. The truly creative artists who have the perseverance to stay in the game for the long haul will always be one step ahead of the Padawans. There is really no reason to dwell on what can’t be changed, the Padawans will always be there. But how you move forward with your own work will separate you as the true Jedi.
My apologies for any errors in this post. I wrote it in the car on my ipad as I am hurtling acrtoss the barrren landscape that is know as Southern Idaho.